June 14, 2024

The Daily Vendor

Nigeria Digital Newspaper

Pastor mulls out of court settlement over Offor, Right Activist’s feud

4 min read

A Clergyman, Pastor Cyril Okonkwo on Tuesday said plans were on to consider out-of-court settlement option on feud between business man, Sir Emeka Offor and a South African Activist, Boniface Okonkwo over alleged defamatory publication against the businessman.

Okonkwo has been in detention since January 3 2024 after being arrested following a complaint by Offor.

Both complainant and defendant are from the same Oraifite community in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state.

Okonkwo had taken the Inspector General of Police IGP Kayode Egbetokun, Emeka Offor and five others to court over alleged unlawful arrest and detention. 

He demanded #50million fine from the police as compensation  for his unlawful detention .

He was reportedly arrested in his Oraifite Community in Anambra state and clamped into detention by police for allegedly criticizing on social media a meter manufacturing company in Oraifite  said to be owned by Offor .

But rather than sue for defamation, Offor filed a complaint with the police.

Several efforts to secure bail for Okonkwo since January failed as court refused him bail.

Recall that after February 6, 2024 adjournment of the case, Counsel to the defendant, Sebastian Okonkwo had expressed disappointment at the court ruling, wondering why his bail application for the accused would be turned down.

He said, “In the first instance, I was unaware of my client being arraigned in court. I was only called few hours to prepare for the court sitting.

“Secondly, the charge brought against him was no longer on cyber crime as earlier stated, but on defamation under Anambra State criminal code. 

“I applied for his bail, but the Counsel for the complainant opposed to the bail application on the grounds that it is a High Court and that application won’t be oral. 

“The matter was adjourned to Tuesday next week for us to file motion for bail. 

“But what surprised me was that after the whole arguments, I expected the court to grant him bail because the law is sacrosanct and clear on that.

“If it’s a misdemeanour, you grant the accused bail. And this is a pure case of misdemeanour, not a felony or capital offence.

“Any judge would have granted him bail without delay. But the lawyers for the state came up with the argument that the accused, in his statement to the Police said he lives in South Africa for almost 14years.

“According to the lawyers, they’re not sure he’ll remain in Nigeria and likely to run away if granted bail. Even when we told the court he has a surety which is the essence of bail until the matter is disposed.

“Again, for the fact that he lives in South Africa or any other part of the world is not a basis for his escape, unless there’s any other reason for the court to believe.

“Remember, the young man was arrested in the village, and there has not been any manifest act to show that if he’ll jump bail if granted. 

“This is very painful. But as a lawyer who believes in the rule of law, we’ll wait for the Judge to deliver his ruling on Tuesday so the young man will not continue being detained.”

But at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, May 7, at the Court, presided over by Justice Vincent Agbata, the Investigating Police Officer handling the matter was cross examined by the counsel to the defendant, Oseleka Osuigwe (SAN) while Alexander Ejesieme (SAN) appeared for the prosecution.

The matter was again adjourned to Wednesday, May 8, for hearing.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the hearing, Pastor CY Okonkwo, an elder brother to the activist said he had made consultations that might result to out of court settlement of the matter.

He said, “Boniface is my younger brother Emeka Offor is from Oraifite, we’re kinsmen. We’re sueing for peace because one can win a case without having peace with your brother; in such case, there will be no progress in the town and charity begins at home.

“The Bible says follow peace with all men,how much more your town’s brother. I want peace to prevail between my brother and Emeka( Offor)so that there will be progress in our town.

” I’m taking about settling out of court. I have gone to Offor through the President General of Oraifite. I have spoken to him. There are things we discussed which I don’t think can be made public now. I have consulted some people that are close to him; they have spoken to him and we’re thinking there’s a kind of progress.

“The way I’m looking at it, he( Offor) is likely to accept our entreaties. We have pleading with him for peace.”

Also speaking, Counsel to the defendant (Boniface Okonkwo), Oseleka Osuigwe alluded to fact the that settling out of court would not be a bad option.

He said, “As a minister in the temple of justice, it’s my duty to promote settlement where possible. If it’s not possible, we continue with the hearing of the matter.

“So, I cannot stand in the way of settlement or ADR or any name called. It’s not a felony, so nobody will be accused of compounding felony. So it’s a matter that can be settled. Even the court, is enjoined by rules of court to promote settlement.

“But for now, my duty is to defend him; but if the family wishes to explore other opportunities, I’m not against it, but I won’t take the initiative, because it’s not my duty to do so. If the court is amenable to the family’s move for out of court settlement, we say all that’s starts well that ends well.”

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